On Tuesday 21st March we took fourteen Y13 Physicists to Cranfield University for the Sandy Gunn Aerospace Careers Programme (SGACP) Network event at their Digital Aviation Research and Technology Centre (DARTeC).

Cranfield University is not particularly well known amongst the general public as it only offer post-graduate courses so none of our students would be applying there until after they get their first degree. It is the only university in Europe which has it’s own airport and it is at the cutting edge of aviation and aerospace technological developments.

The event commenced with an introductory speech from Professor Dame Helen Atkinson the Pro Vice-Chancellor of the university who gave us some background and history around the establishment of the university. After the invention of the jet engine the UK government at the time wanted further academic study into it’s development and uses. Both Oxford and Cambridge wanted to be the base for this new aerospace research department and so a location was chosen directly between the two, at Cranfield a decommissioned RAF base.

The students were then treated to a variety of activities including a tour around the Aerospace Integration Research Centre (AIRC) where exciting industry research projects were underway. They also were allowed to try their hand at landing a Boeing 737 using a flight simulator and then moved on to engage in an interactive robot activity which links to how robots can be utilised to take the place of humans making aircraft inspections upon landing.

Following the lunch break students explored the inside and outside of a real Boeing 737 and were allowed to sit in the cockpit. The systems which keep the aircraft in the air were expertly explained by the engineers and pilots who work for DARTeC.

William Perkin is now a host school for the SGACP and we look forward to welcoming them to the school (complete with jet engine) to present to our students in November.